“And so on and so on,” James said. “It just feels like three or four different seasons.”
James has been cagey about his experience in the bubble, alluding at one point to an off-the-court distraction. In an interview with TNT this week, he declined to elaborate other than to say it had nothing to do with the Lakers. At the same time, he has been vocal about social justice issues, and posted a series of photos of himself reading Malcolm X’s autobiography.
But there is basketball, too, and James recognizes the opportunity in front of him: How many more will come his way? With Davis, the Lakers have a chance.
“He’s been staying in my ear about everything, especially through the playoffs right now,” Davis said.
The game could not have gone worse for Portland. For weeks, they had been the restart’s most captivating attraction — beginning with their spirited run through the seeding games and continuing through Game 1 of their series with the Lakers. No player had been more dynamic than Damian Lillard, who had 34 points and 5 assists in Tuesday’s win.
On Thursday, though, Lillard was still on the court in the midst of a blowout when he reached out to try to strip the ball from Davis — a hustle play that had consequences. Lillard, who shoots with his right hand, grimaced as he left the game with a dislocated left index finger. He finished with 18 points while shooting 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Los Angeles outscored Portland by 29 points when Lillard was on the floor, but he was not the only player on his team who looked exhausted.
As for his injury, Lillard said he would be back for Game 3 on Saturday.
“Oh, I’m playing,” he said.
For his part, James offered up a lot of the usual postseason platitudes: that it was only one game, that the Lakers were not getting ahead of themselves, that they had merely focused on executing their “game plan.” All of which was true, of course.
But they also leaned on Davis to deliver a message: that the Lakers are not about to go away quietly.